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Tue, 25 Oct 2016
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Science of the Spirit

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Why we may cry with happiness

© Psychcentral
Life is full of events that ignite emotions.

When these events occur people may react by performing an action or expressing an emotion that may be opposite of the actual emotional state. The actions and even our use of seemingly contradictory language may help us relieve emotional stress.

For example, the phrase "tears of joy" never made much sense to Yale psychologist Dr. Oriana Aragon. But after conducting a series of studies of such seemingly incongruous expressions, she now understands better why people cry when they are happy.

"People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions," said Aragon, lead author of a study that will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

"They seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions."

There are many examples of responding to a positive experience with a negative emotion.

A crying spouse is reunited with a soldier returning from war. Teen girls scream at a Justin Bieber concert and so do soccer players as they score a winning goal. The baseball player who hits a winning home run is pounded at home plate by teammates. And when introduced to babies "too cute for words," some can't resist pinching their cheeks.

"I was surprised no one ever asked why that is," said Aragon.

Aragon and her colleagues at Yale ran subjects through some of these scenarios and measured their responses to cute babies or happy reunions.

Comment: See also:

Eleven characteristics of bona fide happy people

Face life with Éiriú Eolas, a stress relief program


How playing an instrument benefits your brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What's going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians' brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.


Past life memories of 4-year-old son terrify Virginia mother

U.S. Marine Sgt. Val Lewis died in a bombing explosion October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon. Yet 4-year-old Andrew, who lives in Virginia Beach, remembers it as his death.

"He just starts crying hysterically and I say "What's wrong Andrew?" and he says, "Why did you let me die in that fire?'" says Michele Lucas, Andrew's mother.

Is Andrew running away from a past life?

His mother, Michele, says he is saying things and recalling memories that no one his age should know.

Comment: Intuitions of our immortality: Visions of life before conception

3-year-old remembers past life, identifies murderer and location of body

Norman Mailer: 'I believe in reincarnation'

4-year-old girl claims to be reincarnation of shuttle astronaut

Remembrances of Lives Past

Reincarnation: Its meaning and consequences


The 2 traits that make for a lasting relationship


Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say "I do," committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn't work out that way for most people. The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book The Science of Happily Ever After, which was published earlier this year.

Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were. Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?

Comment: Kindness and generosity. Shouldn't it be obvious? Apparently not. Who would have thought there was such a shortage in our world of these two basic human traits? As our leaders get more psychopathic, our society follows suit. Our generation is one of narcissism, materialism, superficial relationships. The sad thing is that we are not only bringing about our own destruction; we're miserable while we're at it. See also: The four things that kill a relationship stone dead

People 2

The dis-ease of being busy

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: "I'm so busy... I am so busy... have so much going on."

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: "I'm just so busy... got so much to do."

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it's not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled... and scrolled... and scrolled. She finally said: "She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it's gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She's just.... so busy."

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.


Brain's response to threat silenced when we are reminded of being loved and cared for

Being shown pictures of others being loved and cared for reduces the brain's response to threat, new research from the University of Exeter has found.

The study discovered that when individuals are briefly presented pictures of others receiving emotional support and affection, the brain's threat monitor, the amygdala, subsequently does not respond to images showing threatening facial expressions or words. This occurred even if the person was not paying attention to the content of the first pictures.

Forty-two healthy individuals participated in the study, in which researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brain response.

The study, published this week in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, suggests that being reminded of being loved and cared for dampens the threat response and may allow more effective functioning during, and activation of soothing resources after, stressful situations. This was particularly true for more anxious individuals.


Crafting offers meditation-like benefits

© culturbia.net
More than half of US households craft at least once a year,1 but for some it becomes a daily pastime. If you're an avid crafter - knitting, quilting, scrapbooking, etc. - you've probably lost yourself in a project on more than one occasion.

This tendency to become so absorbed in your craft that you're able to forget about your worries, obligations, and even physical pains is called "flow" - and it's a key reason why crafting may be phenomenal for your mental and emotional health.

Comment: Creativity Explained
Creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

The science of creativity is relatively new. Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. ("Inspiration" literally means "breathed upon.") Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity.

But over the past decade, that has begun to change. Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use "creativity" as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.


Modern life is making us addicted & insane

© parentingoc.com
Constant distraction creates an insecure attachment with kids, which can lead to addiction and mental health issues.

Over the past decade or two, seasoned therapists who treat young people have been seeing some increasingly worrisome trends. Although solid statistics are hard to come by, one indication of a surge in troubled young adults comes from the reports of college mental health services. A 2010 survey by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles of almost 202,000 incoming college freshmen at 279 colleges and universities showed a shocking decline in self-reported mental and emotional well-being - at its lowest level since 1985, when HERI began conducting the surveys. In this recent survey, the percentage of students who rated their emotional health "above average" fell from 64 percent in 1985 to 52 percent.

According to the June 2013 APA Monitor, 95 percent of surveyed college counseling-center directors said that the number of students with "significant psychological problems is a growing concern," citing anxiety, depression, and relationship issues as the main problems. Another 2013 survey, the American College Health Association - National College Health Assessment, reported that 51 percent of 123,078 responders in 153 US colleges had experienced "overwhelming anxiety" during the previous year, 31.3 percent had experienced depression so severe it was difficult to function, and 7.4 percent had seriously considered suicide.


Putin: 'Love is the meaning of life'

© RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin is known for his sharp wit, but musings on love are a relative novelty. In an unexpected remark Friday, the Russian president spoke of the "meaning of life," saying that for him "in general" it is love that matters.

Briefly digressing from politics, Putin ventured a philiosophical observation that "multifaceted" love is the basis of all actions and the essence of being.

"The meaning of our whole life and existence is love," Putin told his audience at the 15th Congress of the Russian Geographical Society. "It is love for the family, for the children, for the motherland. This is a multifaceted phenomenon; it lies at heart of any of our behaviors."

Comment: Love is light is knowledge. To love you must know.
 And to know is to have light.
 And to have light is to love. 
And to have knowledge is to love.

Despite extreme defamation and lies Putin makes sure for others to have the chance to know and to love.


Are we only as old as we think we are?

© Unknown
Octogenarian Johanna Quaas showed off her skills at the 2012 Cottbus World Cup in Germany
Are we as old as our age, or only what age we think we are?

That's something that Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer has been examining for over three decades.

Through different experiments with senior citizens, she tries to show the deep connection between body and mind.

She believes it's possible for a person's mind to help remedy a physical ailment. To examine this, she's conducted numerous studies that focus on an individual's expectation of aging versus the real symptoms of aging.